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Francesca Malfatti

Francesca Malfatti's picture

2016-current OGS Resercher (III livello, tempo indeterminato)

2014-2016  Marie Curie Fellow Researcher             

CNR (Italian National Research Council) -OGS (National Institute of Oceanography And Experimental Geophysics), Trieste, Italy

2009-2014 Postdoctoral Fellow                                   

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, USA   

2009  Ph. D.                                                                       

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, USA

2000-2002     Researcher     (2000-2002)                  

Marine Biology Laboratory (now: OGS- National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics), Trieste, Italy                  

1999 B. Sc. in Biology- Marine Biology                     

University of Trieste, Italy       


Cruise Experience

2002: R/V Sproul (SIO, USA), Santa Barbara basin, Pacific Ocean, Benthos sampling in seeps  (C. Smith, SIO, Chief Scientist)

2003: R/V Pelagia (NIOZ, Holland) Southern Mediterranean, BADE project: Planktonic food-web in the oligotrophic water of an anticyclonic gyre) (G. Herndl, NIOZ, Chief Scientist)

2004: R/V Gould (USAP, USA) Drake Passage, AntarcticaBWZ project: Plankton Community Structure and Iron Distribution in the Southern Drake Passage  (G. Mitchell, SIO, Chief Scientist)

2014: R/V OGS-Explora (OGS), Drake Passage, Antarctica, Po.P.O. project :Po river effect on seawater bacterial community and metabolism), Po Delta area (M. Celussi, OGS, Chief Scientist) 



IRPE  Prize (International Recognition of Professional Excellence) winner 2010 in marine ecology; Oldendorf Germany (

Quotation of the Jury (Chairman: Victor Smetacek, Bremerhaven, Germany):

Francesca Malfatti has made innovative and important contributions to the emerging field of microscale biogeochemistry of the surface ocean. As a beginning graduate student Francesca became convinced that to understand how microbes regulate the global ocean carbon cycle we must know their activities and interactions at nanometer to micrometer scales. Painstakingly applying Atomic Force Microscopy to marine pelagic systems she discovered novel and abundant associations of bacteria with other bacteria and with Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus as well as microbial networks that had gone undetected despite decades of research in marine microbiology. These findings should significantly advance our understanding of the ecophysiology, adaptive biology and biogeochemical function of pelagic marine microbes. The jury found her most worthy of the IRPE Prize in marine ecology 2010.

ERASMUS Award (European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students) at the Observatoire Océanologique de Villefranche-sur-Mer (l'Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CNRS France) under the guidance of M.L Pedrotti and F. Rassoulzadegan (9/2000 –2/2001)

Exchange program, Italian Embassy, USA (10/2001- 3/2002) at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, under the guidance of F. Azam


Reviewer Mission

Reviewer for Aquatic Microbial Ecology, ISME Journal, Journal of Molecular Recognition, PNAS, Environmental Microbiology, Applied and Environmental Microbiology and Botanica Marina

Peer reviewer for National Science Foundation (USA), National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (USA), Czech Science Foundation

Capacità e interessi: 

I am a marine microbial ecologist and biogeochemist. My research focuses on the role of marine microbes in oceanic carbon cycle. Microbes exert their action at the microscale, where molecules encounter organisms. Studying individual cell physiology and ecology ​at the small scale is critical for understanding the mechanistic bases of oceanic biogeochemical cycles.

Major projects: 


  • NIH: Vibrio cholerae: ecology of a seawater bacterium
  • NSF: CREICO: Mucilage formation in the Northern Adriatic Sea, NE Mediterranean Sea
  • NSF: BWZ: Natural Fe enrichment in the Antarctic Ocean
  • Consorzio Venezia Nuova: SIOSED: Environmental impact of transplanted sediment in the Venice Lagoon, Italy
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation- MMI: Atomic Force Microscopy and 3-D Deconvolution Microscopy for studying microbial ecology on coral mucus and marine organic particles
  • Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation- MMI: Closely interacting microbes as hotspots of biogeochemical activity (
  • P cycling in N Adriatic Sea
  • OSD: Ocean Sampling Day (


  • Marine European Board, Working Group on Citizen Science
  • NSF: CAICE, Center for Aerosol Impacts on Climate and Environment (
  • Black Carbon and marine carbon biogeochemical cycle
  • UNESCO: Ocean Literacy-Italia
  • PRIAMO, Italian Antarctic Polar Program, PI Mauro Celussi
  • POR- FESR, PI Paolo Diviacco (OGS)
Curriculum vitae: 
Lingue parlate: 
Italian, English, French, German